What is the best way for filmmakers to use the Internet to their advantage when every film has a web site now?
The Internet offers the best opportunity for niche marketing. Especially for small and limited audience movies and videos. Before, a film marketer had to promote to broad audiences in hopes of finding his niche in that whole. Now, with the Internet, a film marketer can directly approach niche audiences via connections through the web. Let’s say you’ve made an environmentally conscious feature flick. You could easily locate and contact specific groups and organizations with these same beliefs and views by scouring the Internet. Getting on list serves, posting on message boards, “talking” in chat rooms and directing your media and promotions to these specific groups and their subsequent supporting media will make marketing efforts all the more effective than simply trying to send that same film out to a general audience. You may not become a big star, but the project may become a big event within these niches.

You mention self-distribution in your book, what are the positives and negatives of going this route?
Self distribution is a whole business in itself. Functioning as a self-distributor will find the filmmaker ceasing the creative “making” process for a while, to concentrate instead on finding an audience for your product – which can be a very time-consuming and depressing process. However, this “closure” is vital both artistically and financially. It’s hard to begin work on another film or video when the last two years of your life were devoted to one that is still sitting on the shelf. Sure, the act of completing a feature movie or documentary is an accomplishment itself. But you want and need your project to be bought and viewed by the audience it was intended for. And, unless you are genetically wealthy, it’s also not a bad idea to at least break-even on your investment. The very real concern of making a profit can’t be discounted. Especially for film and videomakers who are planning on a career in the industry. An unsold project makes it hard to personally justify investing in another one, and virtually guarantees you won’t find outside investors. Would you risk your hard-earned money on a film or videomaker who hasn’t sold any films? While not all self-distribution efforts are financially successful, at least it finds some money coming in.

Okay, your last chance to impress us, give me one final piece of advice that will explain to me the secrets of the indie film universe?!
This may not be the key to the kingdom, but for all the budding filmmakers out there planning a new project, I’d tell them to make a children’s movie. I’m not kidding. I can’t even begin to tell you how many distributors, video store buyers and others ask me if I know of any children’s movies that might be available. Sure, shooting a kid’s flick may not sound like something you can brag about at the next IFP meet (or even at your local bar when trolling for indie groupies), but, there’s a HUGE built-in audience, and barring Disney, there’s not a ton of competition for live-action independent children’s features. Also, it’s probably not a bad time to consider senior topic films. America is getting older by the day, and while many seniors enjoy general fare, there’s a bubbling market about to burst that’s going to demand story lines tailored to their specific interests.

I guess with those last two tips I can skip thinking that doing a Film Threat interview is going to up my cool quotient… but hey, I’m a marketing guy and I gotta tell it like I see it!

Check out “The Complete Independent Movie Marketing Handbook.”

Posted on May 29, 2003 in Interviews by

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